ArriveCan sweetheart GC Strategies earned $258 million in taxpayer contracts since 2015: report

According to a census conducted by La Presse, IT firm GC Strategies received 140 contracts totaling nearly $258 million from several federal departments and agencies. They provided no such IT services out of their office — an Ottawa bungalow.

ArriveCan sweetheart GC Strategies earned $258 million in taxpayer contracts since 2015: report
Remove Ads

Conservative MPs are calling for another Auditor General investigation into ArriveCan sweetheart GC Strategies, who pocketed $258 million in federal contracts for no IT work.

“So, La Presse has reported shocking news this morning. Justin Trudeau's favorite two person firm — used by the government for IT work — has done no actual work [for] a quarter of a billion dollars,” said Conservative MP Michael Barrett.

“Today, Conservatives are calling for the Auditor General to open an investigation into every contract, every penny that has been paid to GC Strategies,” he added. “It's beyond reason that a two person company operating out of a suburban basement could be doing $258 million in business with the federal government.”

Auditor General Karen Hogan referenced the firm in her scorched earth report that blasted several government agencies Monday for not following “good management practices in the contracting, development, and implementation of the ArriveCAN application.” 

She criticized the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Public Health Agency of Canada), and Public Services and Procurement Canada.

According to a census conducted by La Presse, GC Strategies received 140 contracts totaling nearly $258 million from several federal departments and agencies. 

Public Services and Procurement Canada has suspended all contracts with GC Strategies, at the request of the CBSA, who granted the firm nearly half of these contracts to perform IT services. 

On its website, the consultancy firm presents itself as a "provider of IT solutions," with mention of nine federal projects in its repertoire, including ArriveCan. Their address, found in a business directory, references an Ottawa bungalow and a law office on Carling Avenue.

At committee October 20, 2022, GC Strategies confirmed it subcontracted the IT work to several companies, charging between a 15% and 30% commission rate. The firm billed Ottawa for the project between $1,000 to $1,500 per worker daily.

The average per diem cost for external resources nearly doubled ($675) that of equivalent IT positions in the public service, reported Global News.

"By sourcing, the Government of Canada is committed to obtaining the best possible value for all Canadians and to advancing important social and economic objectives," reads the firm’s website. “GC Strategies is qualified on these procurement methods to provide fixed-price services and solutions to the Government of Canada.”

In an interview with La Presse Tuesday evening, Tory Leader Pierre Poilievre said his caucus would look into the contracts at the public accounts committee and the government operations and budget forecasts committee.

“We must have the truth. The scandal is bigger than before,” claimed Poilievre. "These are incredible revelations from La Presse.” 

“If there is a scandal related to ArriveCan's $20 million, how many other scandals are related to this company without us knowing it? he posed. "We will force parliamentary investigations. We will also send this information to the RCMP."

In addition, the publication uncovered 46 contracts granted to GC Strategies that involved a non-competitive application process.

In her report, Hogan condemned Ottawa for handing out non-competitive contracts to the firm, who never put forward a proposal despite receiving a $2.35 million contract in April 2020.

“This gave [them] an advantage that other potential bidders did not have," she said. But contractors and the federal government alike had failed to properly test the pandemic application with 177 different versions rolling out between April 2020 and October 2022. 

Parliament launched ArriveCan that month for travellers to upload health information, such as vaccination status, at border crossings. It served as a mandatory prerequisite for travel until October 2022. 

"We found little documentation showing that the Canada Border Services Agency completed testing prior to releasing new versions of ArriveCan," reads the Auditor General report.

Hogan estimated the pandemic tool cost taxpayers $59.5 million, with GC Strategies receiving the lion's share at $19.1 million.

The Auditor General’s Office said 18% of invoices submitted by contractors that it tested provided insufficient information “to accurately attribute costs to projects.” Hogan called it the “worst” accounting she’s seen in years.

“We recognize with hindsight things should have clearly been done differently,” added Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc.

“What responsibility does the Trudeau government take?” asked a reporter. “The Trudeau government accepts that taxpayers’ money needs to be treated with the utmost respect,” he replied. 

Although GC Strategies have declined to attend committee questioning, MPs have expressed a willingness to compel committee testimony by issuing subpoenas. Committee subpoenas are enforceable by arrest and carry with them the weight of the courts. 

The committee “will call every witness and compel every document,” warned Conservative MP Kelly McCauley. “We will be ordering past and present ministers of public safety, public works and Treasury Board to answer for ArriveCan mismanagement and waste,” he told the Commons. 

The former suggested fully documenting interactions with potential contractors, noting reasons for non‑competitive procurement processes, and complying with federal contracting policies for future federal contracts.

Ritika Dutt and Amir Morv, founders of software company Botler, first informed the RCMP in September 2021 of alleged ‘cozy relationships’ between the public service and private firms concerning the project. 

Botler released a more detailed report the following November, suggesting senior government bureaucrats held improper contracting practices with representatives at GC Strategies. The federal policing agency launched an application investigation soon after.

Remove Ads
Remove Ads

Don't Get Censored

Big Tech is censoring us. Sign up so we can always stay in touch.

Remove Ads